Plans to upgrade Wellingtons Victorian ticketing system face hurdle over colour palette

Heritage New Zealand has kicked up a fuss over proposed new ticketing validators at Wellington’s train station because they are not in keeping with the building’s colour palette.

Wellington’s train ride payment system has previously been described as Victorian.

Currently cash payments are taken on trains or paper tickets can be purchased ahead of a trip. Snapper cards can only be used on buses.

Greater Wellington Regional Council has moved to trial Snapper cards on the Johnsonville train line, while a wrangle continues over the future of a National Integrated Ticketing System.

For the trial to go ahead, validator posts need to be installed at Wellington’s central railway station so passengers can tag on and off for their journeys.

Correspondence released under the Official Information and Meetings Act has revealed concerns about how these posts would look.

Heritage New Zealand conservation architect Laura Kellaway said they were generally supportive of the trial being run.

But she said the posts were considered to be intrusive within the historic platform area.

The heritage recommendation was for any new elements to be in keeping with the railway station’s historic colours and “recede in prominence ie dark brown, black”, she said.

One of Heritage New Zealand’s conditions of preliminary support for the current trial was being able to completely remove and reverse the posts, Kellaway said.

An effects assessment by architect and conservator Ian Bowman said the posts would create a visual change to the “simple and airy dignity” of the southern end of several platforms.

The colour of the validators was planned to be in Metlink branding, which Bowman said was inconsistent with the rest of the railway station.

In an earlier email, Bowman managed to find some of the exact colours used around the building.

For example, Resene Canterbury Clay, a light tan, was used on office walls with Resene ½ Ash on ceilings.

Bowman recommended modifying the design of the posts to a smaller and less bulky version, as well as changing the colours to be consistent with the heritage colour scheme.

But in another email, Metlink project manager Peter Wells said the Metlink branding was important.

Metlink had already compromised the visibility of the validators, he said.

“In sympathy with Heritage NZ’s desire for Metlink to use colours that do not clash with the surrounding heritage features, the dark blue/green colour from the Metlink brand palette has been chosen”, Wells said.

This was Metlink’s second preference, with a lighter green removed.

In response to questions from the Herald, Metlink network and customer manager Bonnie Parfitt said they were working with Kiwirail, the owner of the station, Heritage NZ and Wellington City Council on the approval process.

“Our strong preference is always to use Metlink branding (blue and green colour scheme) on Metlink assets. It’s important for usability that validators are consistently branded and identifiable for passengers using them anywhere between Johnsonville and Wellington Station.”

Parfitt said anything Metlink installs at the station is subject to an approval process, which included the consideration of heritage.

Heritage New Zealand has been approached for comment.

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